With 2015's train wreck fading off into the distance, Dallas fans have already moved onto the offseason portion of the program. Many fans look immediately to the draft, forgeting that free agency is as much, or more of a key to an immediate turnaround than the draft. Still, the draft is sexy conversation, and as such warrants year-round affection. The fun part is how much of the draft is affected by free agency.
Not just in terms of what team needs remain unfulfilled when Dallas gets on the clock, but also in terms of what selections the team will have. As we've discussed all-season long, we've had a clear idea of how many compensatory picks Dallas would get based on their 2015 free agency haul. Here's the chart we've been working with since May 2015:
|Player Lost||Contract||APY||Round||Player Signed||Contract||APY||Round|
|Demarco Murray||5 yr/ $42 million||$8.4m||4th||x||Greg Hardy||1 yr/ $8.8m||$8.8||4th|
|Jermey Parnell||5 yr/ $32 million||$6.4m||4th||AWARD|
|Bruce Carter||4 yr/ $17 million||$4.25m||6th||AWARD|
|Henry Melton||1 yr/$3.75 million||$3.75m||6th||AWARD|
|Justin Durant||3 yr/ $10.8 million||$3.6m||6th||AWARD|
|Dwayne Harris||5 yr/ $17.5 million||$3.5m||6th||x||Andrew Gachkar||2 yrs/$5.2m||$2.6m||7th|
|George Selvie||1 yr/ $1.4 million||$1.4m||7th||x||Darren McFadden||2 yr/$3m||$1.5m||7th|
Here are the rules that govern compensatory selections:
- There are only 32 compensatory picks available to be spread out amongst the 32 franchises, but they are not distributed equally. Also, no team can receive more than four compensatory picks in any one draft.
- For each player a team signs, it cancels out a player that team lost. These are canceled out based on the value of the contracts. If a team loses a player valued as a third-round pick, and a player valued as a fifth round pick, but sign a player who’s valued as a third… then the team gets the fifth-round pick compensation. The third-round picks cancel out. However, if they sign a player who’s valued as a fourth, then he would cancel out the lower player, and said team would get compensated with the third-round pick.
- The primary determining factor of which round a team is compensated with for a lost player is the Adjusted Average Annual Value of that player’s deal with his new team, compared to the rest of the league. There are levels associated with each round of compensation and teams are slotted in order within those rounds based on the rankings. Playing time and postseason awards are factored in at a much lesser weight.
- The player must stay with his new team through Week 10 of the next season to qualify. Anthony Spencer would have been on the ledger, as would have Jed Collins and Jasper Brinkley, but all were released prior to the Week 10 deadline.
- Multiple players cannot be rolled into a higher compensatory. For instance, Dallas having 5 players with the last two being 6th round comps, will not move it to a 5th rounder
- 2015 also marked the first offseason in which UFAs signed between May 13 and June 1 would not qualify as CFAs.
- On top of salary concerns, not every free agent signed or lost qualifies for compensatory consideration. There are ways to sign players that won’t add to the “players signed” ledger. Players who are cut from other teams, players who were RFAs or ERFAs who weren’t tendered, players signed after May 12th. This eliminates losing Sterling Moore, and signing Corey White from the calculations.
This gives Dallas an additional four selections in the upcoming draft. However, Dallas has already used several of their “natural” picks as trade collateral.
In acquiring the right to select TE Geoff Swaim with pick number 246 of the 2015 draft, Dallas traded away their 2016 sixth-round selection. Right before the season, Dallas traded away their seventh-round pick for RB Christine Michael to Seattle, on condition he be active for three games. D'oh.
Then, when Dez Bryant went down in Week One, the Cowboys traded for WR Brice Butler with Oakland. If Butler remains on the 53 man roster through the Seattle game, Dallas will ship their 2016 5th rounder to Oakland and get back Oakland’s 6th rounder. Dallas has shipped away their 5th, 6th and 7th rounders (and a 2017 5th rounder for Matt Cassel).
So all in all, Dallas has 9 picks in the upcoming draft yet have more information than this to go off of. Without bringing into play postseason awards and playing time, the APY salaries also rank the compensatory picks within the rounds. This means we not only know which rounds Dallas gets comp picks for, but with some certainty we know which exact picks Dallas will have. We'll use OTC's chart of all team's comp picks for this exercise.
|Overall Pick||Round||W/in Rd||Source|
|137||4||38||Comp #1 - Parnell|
|214||6||34||Comp #2 - Carter|
|218||6||38||Comp #3 - Melton|
|219||6||39||Comp #4 - Durant|
Dallas getting three picks in the Top 70 and four picks in basically the Top 100 is a huge deal. In addition to another Top 140 pick based on losing Jermey Parnell, Dallas' three six round comp picks allow them to get the jump on "flyers". These are the seventh round picks teams want to ensure they have control over instead of risking losing them to another squad in the UDFA scramble after the draft concludes.
Of course, all the fun starts with the fourth overall selection. Here's a look at the history of the 4th pick around the NFL, as well as Dallas' history when picking in the Top 5.